Pennine Waterways News

Monday 28 December 2015

Calder and Hebble flood havoc

Stranded boat between Elland and Brighouse

Flooding in the Calder Valley has once again caused havoc and disruption. Heavy rain over the Christmas weekend, falling onto the already saturated hills and moors, quickly ran down into the river valley, overflowing into the Rochdale Canal and the Calder & Hebble Navigation.

On Boxing Day the streets in the middle of Hebden Bridge were waist-deep in water. Several boats on the Rochdale Canal were swept from their moorings, with one left high and dry across the canal.

As the water surged downstream it brought havoc to the Calder & Hebble Navigation between Elland and Brighouse. A number of boats were swept up onto the bank while four others were totally submerged. The towpath and part of the arch of Crowther Bridge, near Cromwell Lock, were washed away.

Crowther Bridge

Two teams from River Canal Rescue have been in the area and have re-floated two of the sunken boats. They were hoping to refloat the other two today before looking at how the stranded boats might be retrieved. They urge boaters affected to raise an insurance claim and to act quickly to mitigate the cost of the claim.

Sunken boat between Elland and Brighouse

One of the stranded boats at Elland

These photographs are from River Canal Rescue. More photographs of the problems between Elland and Brighouse can be seen on River Canal Rescue's Facebook page.
Contact information for River Canal Rescue can be found on their website.

Friday 4 September 2015

Restricted passage at Lock 19w, Huddersfield Narrow Canal

Boaters intending to use the Huddersfield Narrow Canal face yet another problem, this time with restricted passage times at Lock 19w.

A cavity described as a 'sinkhole' has appeared on the lockside of Lock 19w at Friezland in Saddleworth. Presumably this has been caused by water leaking out of the lock chamber eroding the ground at the side of the lock.

The Canal and River Trust's contractors will start work on grouting the cavity next week. The work is expected to take three weeks.

Between Monday 7th September and Friday 26th September boat passage through Lock 19w will be restricted to:
* Before 8.00 am
* Between 1.00 and 2.00 pm
* After 4.30 pm

Boaters would be advised to moor above Lock 21w or below Lock 15w if arriving early and should not attempt to moor in the short, shallow pound below Lock 19w. About 25 minutes should be allowed from above Lock 21w or about 45 minutes from below Lock 15w, depending on crew.

Lock 19w, Royal George Highest Lock at Friezland, Saddleworth.

Saturday 29 August 2015

Problems with locks on Huddersfield Narrow

Boaters navigating the Huddersfield Narrow Canal are facing delays with stoppages arising at two locks on the west side of the canal.

At Lock 26w on the Diggle flight a wooden head gate cill has been damaged by a boat passing over it when the water levels were too low. This is the wooden block on the floor of the canal that abuts the head gate to form a watertight seal. The damage is 'substantial' and the cill cannot be simply fixed. Scaffold access into the lock will be required and, once in place, the repair may take a few days to complete. CRT will issue an update on Tuesday with a timetable for the repair.

Meanwhile at Lock 10w near Millbrook a quoin has failed. This forms a watertight seal at the side of the gate. An attempted repair this morning was unsuccessful. CRT will issue an update on Tuesday with a timetable for the repair.

These problems have arisen just after a safety problem in Standedge Tunnel has been resolved.

Update Wednesday 2nd September:
In addition to the problems above, a cill has failed at Lock 8w near Millbrook. A repair was attempted yesterday but was unsuccessful. It is hoped that the repair can be completed today (2nd September).

This has delayed repairs to the quoin at Lock 10w. It is hoped that repairs to Lock 10w will be completed tomorrow (3rd September).

The repair team will move on to Lock 26w on Friday, when scaffolding is installed. It is hoped to complete the repairs at Lock 26w by Saturday afternoon.

Update Wednesday 2nd September, 3.30 pm:
The repair to Lock 8w is complete and the lock is now open to navigation. Boaters should note that they cannot proceed beyond Grove Road Services (above Lock 8w) as there is still a stoppage at Lock 10w.

Update Thursday 3rd September, 2.30 pm:
The repair to the quoin has now been completed,and the navigation through Lock 10w is now open.

Update Saturday 5th September, 10.00 am:
The repair to Lock 26w is complete and the lock is now open to navigation.

(Please note the restricted times of passage at Lock 19w from 7th September. See details.)

Note concerning cills:
Boaters should be aware that, when closed, a lock gate butts up to a wooden cill (or threshold) that forms a water-tight seal against the gate. These wooden cills are usually slightly higher than the adjacent canal bed. Attempting to enter or leave a lock when water levels are too low can result in the boat's skeg catching the cill and damaging it, or even ripping it out of place.

This will mean a water-tight seal cannot be made, making it difficult (or impossible) to completely empty or fill the lock.

When levels are low, boaters should proceed slowly and be prepared to stop and back off it the boat makes contact with the wooden cill. Forcing the boat over a cill is selfish and could result in other boaters having their holidays spoilt by a stoppage. The best course of action is to send someone to open the next paddle above the cill in question and wait until water levels are high enough to cross a cill without making contact. (Only enough water should be released to increase the water level sufficiently. The paddle should then be closed again to prevent the pound above also becoming too low.)

Lock 26w on the Diggle flight.

Friday 28 August 2015

Bridgewater Canal Re-opens

The Bridgewater Canal has re-opened to navigation between Castlefield and Waters Meeting.

The canal closed on 31st July to enable the demolition of a dangerous building alongside the canal. Navigation of this stretch resumed from midday on Friday 28th August.

The Bridgewater Canal Company has asked boaters to pass the site slowly, keeping to the offside, and to be vigilant in following any signs or instructions.

The towpath remains closed.

The derelict Excelsior Works on the left of the Bridgewater Canal, near Hulme Hall Bridge.

Thursday 27 August 2015

Standedge Tunnel Safety Alert

Passage through Standedge Tunnel was temporarily suspended after a safety alert this week.

On Wednesday while one of the normal chaperone-assisted passages was taking place, it was noticed that one of Network Rail's timber overhead walkways that cross the tunnel had partially collapsed and that large timbers were suspended dangerously over the water. As a result the Canal and River Trust had to close the tunnel to navigation.

Network Rail sent a maintenance crew to begin removing the dangerous timbers. That work is underway and was expected to be complete by Thursday night.

If all has gone well tunnel passages should be resumed as normal on Friday (28th August).

The original railway tunnels were built alongside the south side of the canal tunnel. The later twin track rail tunnel was built on the north side of the canal, linked at intervals with the original tunnels by means of passages. Some of these cross the canal tunnel on wooden walkways and it is one of these that became unsafe.

It is understood that it was necessary to take the boat back out of the tunnel the way it had come. It was expected that the boat would be allowed through the tunnel as soon as Network Rail had made the walkway safe.

Update Friday 28th August:
The repair has been completed and the tunnel has re-opened to normal operation.

One of the overhead walkways crossing Standedge Tunnel.

Saturday 8 August 2015

Marple Locks restriction

Marple Locks are currently open at restricted times after a boat damaged a lock gate.

From today (8th Aug), passage through Marple locks will only be will be between 8.00 am and 10.00 am and between 1.00 pm and 3.00 pm each day until further notice. Canal and River Trust staff will be available to assist boats through Lock 14, where the tail gate has been damaged by boat impact.

The tail gates of Lock 14 were damaged when they were hit by a boat. The lock flight was closed while an inspection of the damage was carried out. Further assessment is needed and the lock will be operated by CRT staff until repairs can be made.

CRT will issue a further update when it is known how they will proceed.

Lock 14, Peak Forest Canal, Marple

Thursday 30 July 2015

Emergency closure on Bridgewater Canal

The Bridgewater Canal is to be closed in Manchester between Egerton Street Bridge, Castlefield, and Cornbrook Road Bridge near Pomona Lock.

The canal is to be closed from midday tomorrow (31st July) until further notice.

The stoppage is to enable emergency demolition work next to the canal near Hulme Hall Bridge. The towpath will also be closed.

Part of the Excelsior Works away from the canal collapsed three days ago and it would appear that the whole building, which abuts the towpath, has been declared unsafe and is to be demolished.

This stoppage is on the arm of the Bridgewater Canal between Stretford and Manchester. The rest of the Bridgewater Canal is not affected.

No end date for the closure has been announced yet.

Update Friday 28th August:
From mid-day today (28th Aug) the navigation will be re-opened with a restricted channel. Boater should pass slowly and use the offside of the canal. The towpath remains closed.

The derelict Excelsior Works on the left of the Bridgewater Canal, near Hulme Hall Bridge.

Monday 27 July 2015

Poolstock Lock repair delayed

What at first appeared to be a straightforward problem at Lock 1 on the Leigh Branch of Leeds and Liverpool Canal has turned into a lengthy delay for boaters.

A week ago CRT staff closed the top lock of the two locks at Poolstock in Wigan, as the ground paddle culvert was leaking badly, affecting water levels on the main line of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal across nearby Wigan Junction.

For some reason CRT did not have the appropriate stop planks available and had to wait for more to be delivered. In the meantime CRT staff worked boats through the lock between 10 and 11 am over several days.

The new stop planks duly arrived and were installed on Friday and it was expected that the repairs would be carried out over the weekend.

However a further update issued today says that even with the stop planks in place they were unable to effect a water-tight seal to enable the work to be carried out. A temporary dam has now been ordered and will be installed in the next few days.

At this stage CRT are expecting the works will be completed on Friday and the lock will reopen on Saturday 1st August. An update should be issued tomorrow (28th July).

Update Tuesday 28th July:
The temporary dam will be installed on Thursday and will require a day to settle before work on the paddle sluice can start. Repair work will be carried out on Friday.

CRT anticipates that the canal will re-open on Saturday 1st August. A further update will be issued on Friday 31st July.

Update Friday 31st July:
Contractors will be removing the temporary dams tomorrow morning and CRT anticipates that the navigation will re-open around midday on Saturday 1st August.

Poolstop top lock, Leigh Branch of Leeds and Liverpool Canal

Friday 17 July 2015

CRT to go ahead with Marple Aqueduct fence

The Canal and River Trust has announced that it is to go ahead with controversial plans to erect a safety fence along the offside of historic Marple Aqueduct.

When the plans were put forward last December it was apparent that the idea of a safety fence on this Grade 1 Listed structure was unpopular and regarded by many as unnecessary. There are fences and warning signs at each end of the aqueduct.

The fence is to be erected along the off-side of the canal to protect people from falling 90 feet to the River Goyt below.

Marple Aqueduct

There was a public consultation period at the start of the year with a number of responses being submitted by organisations and individuals. 24 people responded to the consultation about the design of the fence.

CRT's David Baldacchino says that 69 people used the consultation process to express their concerns about installing a fence. He says that CRT thought very carefully about the objections presented. He says: "Taking full account of all factors involved the Trust has reluctantly decided that it is reasonable to install fencing to sensibly mitigate the risks that the Trust has to manage at this location."

Artist's impression of proposed safety fence

While CRT speaks of observations and anecdotes of people walking on the offside of the aqueduct we have only heard of one case of someone falling to their death in the aqueduct's 220 year history.

CRT's David Baldacchino says: "We’ve had to weigh up the risks to public safety whilst making sure any safety measures are sympathetic to the heritage of the structure. I understand that not everyone will be supportive of the installation of railings because of the important heritage aspects at the site. However, in addition to our public consultation, we have also sought expert advice from the Trust's navigation and heritage advisory groups, who both support action being taken, provided that we carefully develop a suitable design."

You can read more about the response to the consultation here.

Monday 13 July 2015

Wigan Flight stoppage

The Wigan lock flight on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal has been closed following damage to a lock gate.

The gate, at Lock 83, near the bottom of the flight, suffered "impact damage from a boat".

The flight is closed until further notice while CRT staff investigate the damage and design the repair.

An update will be issued on Tuesday 14th July. It is believed that this stoppage is not affected passage between the Leigh Branch and the canal west of Wigan. Boaters intending to travel between the Leigh Branch and the canal west of Wigan may wish to contact the Wigan office to confirm this.

Update Tuesday 14th July:
CRT has come up with several ideas for using the damaged gates until they can be repaired. These solutions will be tested tomorrow (Wednesday) to see if they will work safely. A further update will be issued tomorrow afternoon. CRT say they are working to get boats moving again as soon as possible. The impact damage means that the gates will need to be completely replaced in the winter.

Update Wednesday 15th July:
CRT has worked out a temporary method for letting boats through the lock flight until some sort of repair can be made to the gates. Boats travelling on the flight should arrive at Lock 65 or Lock 85 at 8.00 am. Once the boats present at 8.00 am have moved onto the flight, no further boats will be admitted. Boats will be assisted through Lock 83 by CRT staff (but not through other locks). The flight will then be locked until the next morning.

CRT will issue a further update indicating when they expect to carry out the temporary repairs to the gates.

Lock 83 at Wigan, Leeds and Liverpool Canal

Thursday 23 April 2015

Marsden lock gate on 'Blue Peter'.

A new lock gate in Marsden will feature in BBC's flagship children's programme 'Blue Peter' tonight.

The feature will focus on the new gate at Lock 37e on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal in Marsden. Presenter Barney Harwood rolled up his sleeves and got stuck into making a new lock gate and then fitting it during two full day filming sessions with Canal & River Trust staff from the Manchester & Pennine Waterway team and carpenters from the Trust’s Stanley Ferry Workshop, near Wakefield.

The BBC production team with the CRT team in February, by the newly installed lock gate and balance beam. Photo: CRT

Lock 37 east was due to be replaced as part of the Trust’s routine winter maintenance programme. When Blue Peter producers heard what was involved, they thought it would make an ideal feature on the programme.

The first filming day was in September 2014 when Barney enjoyed a trip into nearby Standedge Tunnel, Britain’s highest, longest, deepest canal tunnel, helped Trust carpenters measure up on site and then make the new oak gate at the Stanley Ferry Workshop.

Trust construction and operations supervisors Mark Wigley and Nick Atkinson were on hand to act as his waterways guides and then carpenters Andrew Bayliss and apprentice Josh Hindson assisted with the making of the gates and carving the Blue Peter logo into the balance beam.

In February Barney and the Blue Peter filming team returned again to the Huddersfield Narrow Canal in Marsden to watch the old gate being craned out and the new Blue Peter lock gate being craned in and fitted, again under the expert guidance of construction supervisor Mark Wigley.

Mark said later: “It was great fun welcoming the Blue Peter team to the Huddersfield Narrow Canal and the Stanley Ferry Workshop. We were impressed Barney just got stuck in and threw himself into the job with real enthusiasm. This is a great way to introduce children to the waterways and the work involved in caring for them.”

Barney Harwood presenting Blue Peter badges to CRT staff Mark Wigley and Nick Atkinson after filming in September. Photo: CRT

Visitors to Lock 37e will now be able to spot the Blue Peter Lock by a special plaque and Blue Peter logo carved into the balance beam next to the towpath.

If you miss the programme when it is broadcast on 23rd April, it will be repeated at 9.00 am on Sunday 26th April and will be available on BBC iPlayer.

Monday 30 March 2015

Easier to get to Liverpool

It will become easier for boaters to get to the Liverpool Waterfront when CRT simplify the arrangements for getting there this Summer.

Liverpool has become increasingly popular as a canal destination and boaters have had to book a long time ahead to avoid disappointment. Following consultation with boaters, passage to and from Liverpool will be available on more days.

The changes come into effect on 1st August and bookings are being taken for this period now.

Liverpool Canal Link

• It will be possible for boaters to cruise to Eldonian Village, at the end of the canal's main line, without the need to book the Liverpool Canal Link.
• Passage along the Liverpool Canal Link will still be six days a week (no passage on Tuesdays) but will be available in both directions, i.e. up to 6 boats in and 6 boats out on each day.
• In order to maximise the greater flexibility, the maximum free stay on the pontoons in Salthouse Dock will be reduced from 14 days to 7 days.
• The period of notice of cancellation is being increased to 5 days to enable CRT to re-allocate booked slots to boaters on the waiting list. ( A charge is made to boaters who fail to turn up and have not cancelled their booking.)
• More volunteers are to be recruited to assist boaters at Stanley Dock branch and the locks on the Canal Link.
These steps should increase the number of boaters able to visit Liverpool and reduce the time it takes to get a passage.

Boaters who do not have a booking for the Canal Link but who wish to travel as far as Eldonian Village will need to be at Hancocks Bridge (Wango Lane) at 9 am with the boats that have bookings.

These revised arrangements do not start until 1st August and more details will be given by CRT at that time.
The current booking arrangements can be found on the CRT website here.

Salthouse Dock

Wednesday 18 February 2015

Bridge badly damaged by lorry

Yet another canal bridge has been damaged by a lorry. This time it was Walton Bridge, which crosses the Bridgewater Canal just west of Warrington.

Warrington Road, which crosses the bridge, makes a sharp turn across the bridge. It is an unclassified road and it is believed that the driver of the articulated lorry was following SatNav directions.

The bridge is a Grade II Listed structure and it is hoped that the lorry' insurance will cover the cost to the Bridgewater Canal Company of reconstructing the parapet in brickwork that matches the original.

The bridge has been made safe for boats to pass below, although the towpath has been temporarily closed.

For more photographs and the full story, please see the article on the Warrington Worldwide website.

Walton Bridge. Photo: Warrington Worldwide

Wednesday 21 January 2015

Peak Forest bridge deck to be removed

Following the short notice total closure of Wood End Lift bridge on the Upper Peak Forest Canal on 7th January, after it was damaged by an oversized vehicle, the Canal and River Trust have decided that their only option now is to remove the bridge deck from across the canal and partially demolish the structure so that the canal can be reopened.

The work is planned for Thursday 22nd January and everything is in place for that to happen. The bridge deck has been disconnected from the main structure and lifting points welded to it.

The only thing that might prevent this is the weather and how the snow might affect the work. CRT needs to be able to get lifting equipment safely to the site down an awkward track. If this cannot go ahead tomorrow because of the weather, it will be rearranged for the earliest opportunity afterwards.

Following this work the bridge will not be usable to cross the canal by either pedestrians or vehicles until it can be replaced which CRT are planning to do before Easter.

Wood End Lift bridge is Bridge 24 between Marple and New Mills on the Upper Peak Forest Canal.

Pedestrians should use Bridge 25, Higgins Clough swing bridge, a quarter of a mile towards New Mills.

Information about the closure is posted at the bridge site. For further information about this work please contact CRT at the Red Bull office on 0303 040 4040.

Follow this link to see history of this stoppage.

Update Thursday 22nd January:
The Canal and River Trust have confirmed that the parts from Wood End Lift Bridge have been removed and the canal has now re-opened to navigation.

The bridge cannot now be used to cross the canal by pedestrians or vehicles. CRT will announce later when there is a date for the bridge to be replaced.

Wood End Lift Bridge, Upper Peak Forest Canal. Photo: T.N.C.

Wednesday 7 January 2015

Bridge closed on Upper Peak Forest

Wood End Lift Bridge on the Upper Peak Forest Canal has been closed to navigation until it can be repaired.

The bridge, one of three boater-operated bridges between Marple and New Mills, has sustained damage and is inoperable for safety reasons. It has been taken out of action and the canal closed to navigation at this point. The towpath remains open.

Canal and River Trust engineers are assessing the damage and a plan for repair will be drawn up. An update will be issued later.

Update Tuesday 13th January:
The bridge appears to have been hit by an oversized vehicle, damaging the deck and superstructure. The Canal and River Trust need to make some modifications to the bridge to allow navigation to restart, and so that the bridge can be operated by CRT staff.
It is planned to allow passages but only under Trust supervision, hopefully by Friday 16th Jan.

Update Thursday 15th January:
Canal and River Trust are now able to reopen the bridge on a restricted basis, from 10 am to 12 noon on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays until further notice, with CRT staff operating the bridge.

Part of the operation on each occasion will include a period of testing and monitoring before boats pass through and CRT ask for boaters' patience while this takes place.

Update Friday 16th January:
Canal and River Trust have had to close the bridge to navigation again today following an inspection. A more detailed assessment and investigation is required. The bridge is closed again until further notice.

Update Wednesday 21st January:
Canal and River Trust have decided that their only option is to remove the bridge deck from across the canal and partially demolish the structure so that the canal can be reopened.
Follow this link for more details.

Wood End Lift Bridge, Upper Peak Forest Canal. Photo: T.N.C.

Friday 2 January 2015

A Safety Fence on Marple Aqueduct?

The Canal and River Trust is inviting people to express their views about their proposal to erect a fence along the offside of historic Marple Aqueduct on the Peak Forest Canal.

Marple Aqueduct showing the unfenced off-side

Following the work carried out recently by the Canal and River Trust to improve the experience for visitors to Marple Aqueduct, including cutting back trees to enable a clear view of the structure from the side, a increase in the number of visitors is now expected.

A safety review of the Aqueduct has concluded that additional measures are required to reduce risk to visitors, including a parapet fence on the off-side of the structure (opposite the towpath side). Boaters are at present able to get off onto the unprotected ‘off-side’, while some people are understood to have jumped across the canal channel as a dare.

The Trust is looking for feedback on the safety fencing proposals. Comments can be made by email to

The consultation period will be open until January 31st 2015.

An artist's drawing of what the fence is expected to look like can be seen here:

Artist's impression of proposed safety fence

A similar fence exists at the smaller Paddock Aqueduct in Huddersfield:

Paddock Aqueduct, Huddersfield Narrow Canal

The Trust say that the safety fence will be to be part of a wider programme of improvements including vegetation clearance to reveal the sweep of the Aqueduct, gateway markers, suitable safety signage and improved green space at the entry points to the Aqueduct, creating a sense of arrival at the Grade 1 Listed structure and Scheduled Ancient Monument.

It is not known how many people have fallen from the aqueduct since its opening 215 years ago. Perhaps a local historian can help with that one. The proposal also raises the question of whether such safety measures can be expected to appear on other structures such as the aqueducts at Chirk and Pontcysyllte.

Read about this consultation here: and, if you have views, please make them known using the email link above.

Marple Locks and Aqueduct Open Day

As part of the Winter stoppage programme, the Canal and River Trust recently held an "Open Day" at Marple Locks and Aqueduct, so that visitors could see the work that was being done. This attracted a lot of interest, with more than 700 people attending.

A new view of Marple Aqueduct

As well as repairing the lock chamber wall of Lock 2 and replacing the gates of Lock 3, the Trust has re-pointed the wash wall on the Aqueduct and cut back vegetation on the hillside below, to enable visitors to obtain a clear view of the sweep of the historic structure.

The programme of improvements includes safety signage and improved green space at the entry points to the Aqueduct, creating a sense of arrival at the Grade 1 Listed structure and Scheduled Ancient Monument.

Visitors moving between the locks and the aqueduct

Inspecting the lock chamber